I am driven by the desire to understand what shapes the social and reproductive lives of female animals. In disciplinary terms, that makes me an evolutionary behavioral ecologist, focusing on intra- and interspecific variation in the life-histories of wild birds and mammals. I have a PhD in Ecology (emphasis in Conservation Ecology) from the University of California, Davis, where I worked with Dirk Van Vuren on the ecological and social factors underlying variation in female reproduction of an asocial mammal, the golden-mantled ground squirrel (Callospermophilus lateralis). I conducted my dissertation research at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Gothic, Colorado, using long-term demography, behavioral observations, and molecular tools; I will be returning to RMBL and the ground squirrels this summer to launch a new project on maternal influences on female life-history variation.
I am also interested in interspecific hybridization (breeding between species) as a cause and consequence of individual- and species-level behavioral variation. As part of this interest I work on the patterns and process of contemporary hybridization in the endangered Koloa maoli (Hawaiian duck, Anas wyvilliana), using behavioral observations and reduced representation genome sequencing, with the goal of protecting this species from genetic extinction. Thanks to a recent postdoctoral fellowship at Smithsonian Institute National Museum of Natural History, I have also been investigating ancestral hybridization of the Koloa, using 3D geometric morphometrics and ancient DNA at the Center for Conservation Genomics.
Currently I am a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Dept. of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology at Colorado State University, working with the Aubry Lab on the evolution of ground squirrel life histories. I also work with the Eadie Labat UC Davis, investigating maternal investment and conspecific brood parasitism in wood ducks (Aix sponsa), and with the Ting Lab in the Institute of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Oregon, where I am using whole genome sequencing to understand the recent extinction of a suspected-hybrid species of African primate, and non-invasive genomic methods to study the sociality and demography of forest and forestXsavanna hybrid elephants (Loxodonta cyclotisXafricana) in Western Uganda.